Amazon has turned a large number of employee smiles upside-down this holiday season with layoffs. (Source: Adobe Stock)

Amazon Institutes AI that Replaces Recruiters, HR Mid-Level Workers

Will AI be able to do everything a human can do when it comes to working abilities? Amazon and Jeff Bezos are betting it can. In fact, Amazon is so AI-forward these days that they are replacing lots of employees with an algorithm. And as you might imagine, it has many workers upset.

Some of the first to fall were Amazon recruiters. A new algorithm being deployed can ask the right questions and choose applicants just as well as their human predecessors can, according to an article from this week.

“[T]he model is achieving precision comparable to that of the manual process and is not evidencing adverse impact,” the 2021 internal paper read.

The technology, known internally as Automated Applicant Evaluation, or AAE, was built by a group in Amazon’s HR division called the Artificial Intelligence Recruitment team. Amazon first built AI hiring technology in the mid-2010s but discontinued the system after it demonstrated a bias against women. Amazon’s HR division believed that new machine learning models successfully guarded against biases based on race and gender, according to an internal document.

“Amazon instituted a corporate hiring freeze earlier in the fall and, just last week, The New York Times reported that Amazon would lay off around 10,000 workers, or 3 percent of its corporate staff, in what would be the largest series of corporate job cuts in the company’s nearly three-decade history. Alongside layoffs in the company’s Alexa and Amazon gadgets divisions, the company sent buyout offers to large swaths of the company’s HR division, including all low- and mid-level recruiters in the US and India.”

If employees voluntarily walked away from their jobs, Amazon offered three months of pay plus one week of salary for every six months of tenure at the company.

The AAE technology removes one key role that some recruiters serve at Amazon, which is evaluating job applicants and choosing which should move on to job interviews. The program uses the performance reviews of current employees, along with information about their resumes and any online job assessments they completed during their hiring process, to evaluate current job applicants for similar roles.

Using everything from robots moving merchandise in the warehouse, to autonomous vehicles hauling items, Amazon has demonstrated that it will use AI wherever possible. Now the company is moving even more AI into the intellectual side of its business rather than the grunt work of the warehouse.